Nest structure engineering of the leaf-cutting ant, Acromyrmex landolti, in the semiarid Caatinga biome

  • S. S. VerzaEmail author
  • R. C. R. G. Gervásio
  • O. M. Alves e Silva
  • M. O. Gomes
  • S. A. Souza
  • R. M. Mussury
Research Article


Nest architecture is a key factor in the development of ant colonies. Species-specific constructed nests can be simple such as surface-level nests or elaborate such as subterranean or arboreal nests. Subterranean nests are more difficult to study and their internal structure is little known. This study was carried out with the objective of studying the structure of leaf-cutting ant nests in an extreme environment. For such, seven nests of Acromyrmex landolti were excavated in a semiarid region of the Caatinga, an exclusively Brazilian biome. The nests were measured both externally and internally and then photographed. Nests were found in open and sunny areas and externally all nests presented a loose soil mound, straw protection over the entrance hole, and a refuse dump. The number of underground chambers found ranged from 4 to 17, with differing heights, widths, and lengths. The chambers were found from near the surface of the ground to a maximum depth of 1.70 m. Our results showed that strategies used by A. landolti include the construction of an ornate straw tower at the entrance of the nest and the construction of deep underground rooms, with the chambers of fungi near the water table. The structure of the nests of A. landolti is probably related to its habit of building their nests in open, sunny locations associated with environmental factors characteristic of the semiarid climate of the Caatinga biome.


Acromyrmex Behavioral strategies Leafcutter ants Nest architecture Refuse disposal Semiarid climate 



This work was supported by PNPD/CAPES (National Postdoctoral Program of the Higher Education Personnel Improvement Coordination). Received financial support in conjunction with the Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD) and the Foundation for the Support and Development of Education, Science, and Technology (FUNDECT) of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul (Process: 23/200.838/2013). We would like to thank to Federal University of the São Francisco Valley (UNIVASF) technicians for the assistance with data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biological and Environmental SciencesFederal University of Grande DouradosDouradosBrazil
  2. 2.Faculty of Agrarian SciencesFederal University of the São Francisco ValleyPetrolinaBrazil

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